Patricia Waiwood was born without a left hand. Though it’s never slowed her down – she says she has always been able to easily keep up with her peers – it denied her the one job she ever wanted, to be a Marine. In fact, Waiwood tried to join every branch of the military. And while each one denied her, she did not let that stop her from finding a way to help our service men and women. She decided to help wounded veterans who continue to suffer from the effects of warfare when they return home. Waiwood explained in an interview with iHeartDogs:
Once I knew for a fact that I couldn’t enlist – that is, after trying to join every single branch – I made my own unique type of commitment to the military. I had some experience with doing cross-country cycling trips, and so I knew how brutally, physically, and psychologically demanding they are. Also, I knew this: a soldier never leaves a man behind. As a soldier at heart, I couldn’t leave behind our wounded warriors, who come back home and battle PTSD/TBI for (possibly) the rest of their life. Combine both of those elements, and the product is my three campaigns to cycle great distances alone in order to raise money for wounded warriors.
For her next ride, Waiwood has teamed up with K9s For Warriors, an organization that trains dogs to be service animals for veterans suffering from PTSD and/or Traumatic Brain Injury as a result of military service post 9/11. She says she chose this organization because she loves the fact that they not only pair a dog with a veteran, but that 92 percent of the dogs are rescues or owner surrenders. She feels this is a “win-win” for both ends of the leash.
“The unfortunate, staggering fact is, every day, 22 veterans returning from combat take their own lives,” said Rory Diamond, Executive Director, at K9s For Warriors in a press release. “The K9s for Warriors training program not only provides our soldiers with a life-saving gift, but it’s also an opportunity for peer to peer support with other servicemen and women who suffer from similar issues.”
“Having a service dog is, in my mind, the best way to combat one of the most crippling components of PTSD: isolation,” Waiwood told iHeartdogs. “Often, vets with PTSD will isolate themselves. I can’t explain why. But they’ve just been through so much and seen so many horrible things that they isolate themselves and, as a result, become extremely lonely. This doesn’t help them to heal at all. That’s why being able to have a dog as a buddy wherever they’d like to go brightens their lives so much, it’s almost indescribable.”
This Year’s Ride
In prior years, Waiwood raised money for the Wounded Warrior Project and EOD Warrior Foundation. This year, her ride is particularly powerful, because Waiwood is planning on riding 12 times around Oahu (a total of over 1,000 miles) in honor of the 12 Marines from Marine Corps Base Hawaii that were killed in a helicopter crash in January. She wants to raise $180,000 – enough for 12 service dogs in honor of the 12.
The ride is set for October, giving her about three months to raise the money, which comes from pledges and sponsors. If you are interested in doing either, you can donate through her DonorPerfect page or you can mail a check, made out to K9s For Warriors with the following note in the Memo line: “Ride For Our Soldiers 2016”:
K9s For Warriors
114 Camp K9 Road
Ponte Vedra, Florida 32081
As of now, Waiwood does not have another ride planned, but she says that will probably change. She does know that she will continue to raise money for K9s For Warriors, whose work, she says, is “so laudable it almost defies description.”
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